Student centred is a term I have heard throughout my time as an educator. Most of the time, I feel like I have heard it wrong, especially in what that usually looks like in the classroom. Many educators do a fantastic job with differentiation, but really struggle with letting go of the control of the lesson design. I completely understand that issue.
First, let me tell you that there will always be a place in the classroom for fun, engaging lessons. Even direct instruction. No one should be telling you that you aren’t a teacher anymore. Far from it. It’s just the priorities of the lessons are changing as our access to information evolves.
Second, let me reassure you that this isn’t about dropping your standards for students. Again, far from it. It’s just that holding the same standards for every student doesn’t really make a lot of sense when you consider the learning journey that they each are on. They all have their own needs, strengths, weaknesses, goals; it’s a never-ending buffet of variety.
Student centred doesn’t mean a loss of control of the learning. It does mean, however, an openness to how the students will be participating in that learning. And it does mean letting go of some antiquated teaching strategies. Which is fine, no one is going to miss worksheets.
The biggest shift is the need to have individual goals that you plan with the student. The student needs to be in control of the goal that they are working on; you are in control of the platter of goals that they choose from. While you might have an offering of assignments, you need to be open to alternative forms of learning and assessment that the student can work with.
The benefit of this is that students can exceed their own limitations. When they know that the work will truly be their own, they tend to participate in the learning in much more meaningful ways.